Since the beginning of writing, human beings have been comforted by thoughts and feelings about nature. Ancient hieroglyphs featured animals, water currents, insects, and land structures as representations of language.
As civilization progressed, early polymaths made references to nature, from Alexander the Great’s letter explaining his desire to learn animal science, to Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, to King Solomon who spokel lovingly of trees, fowl, and fish.
Many great books are either dedicated to the beauty of nature, or allude to it, as a means to understand life. In this discussion, we’re going to consider quotes about the various realms of nature and our relationship to it.
Many quotes focus on nature’s great beauty.
“The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see.”
On the other hand, big minds like Walt Disney are capable of seeing the earth’s beauty in perspective.
“How could this earth of ours, which is only a speck in the heavens, have so much variety of life, so many curious and exciting creatures?”
Communing With Nature
Besides beauty, much has been written about the connection humans have with the natural earth. Essayist Henry David Thoreau understood nature as one of the true motivators of the human spirit.
“We need the tonic of wildness. We require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.”
Perhaps it takes a poet’s mind to see the parallels between nature and nurturing human sentience, symbolized by Mother Nature. Psychedelic pioneer Terence McKenna spoke of Mother Nature as a victim of humanity’s greed.
“Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves to be cherished and explored.”
Mark Twain, on the other hand, spoke of Mother Nature’s independence from humankind.
“The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.”
Native American Ponca chief Standing Bear well understood the dark side of human nature.
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”
World-famous naval officer and conservationist Jacques Yves Cousteau saw the same pattern but added some hope.
“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century, he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
Naturalist author Lorraine Anderson wrote of nature’s admirable qualities as not just a painting, but a persona, one capable of teaching love.
“Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.”
Journalist Hal Borland similarly wrote of the beauty of nature’s personality, something completely lovable and innocent.
“You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”
Modernist poet Rainer Maria Rilke understood that when one truly loves nature, their values also change for the better.
“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”
Happiness and Life
Philosophers like Ralph Waldo Emerson have long understood that communing with nature is happiness in and of itself.
“The earth laughs in flowers.”
But jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes also saw nature’s magnificence as he perceived that to work along with nature was another form of happiness.
“On every stem, on every leaf and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or another expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part.”
Indian author Ritu Ghatourey spoke of the special relationship between children and nature – how we are all born naturalists.
“Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life.”
The changing of the seasons continually refreshes our senses and gives us newness to look forward to.
“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” -Pablo Neruda
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” -Edith Sitwell
Of course, few poets could resist comparing nature’s nuances to the study of religion and spirituality. For the religious among us, it is not difficult to see God in nature.
But it takes a showman like William Shakespeare to see nature as a great stage.
“The earth has music for those who listen.”
Sun, Sky, Stars
The sky and the stars are a part of nature, and Japanese author Haruki Murakami understands them to be an extension of the natural earth.
“Not just beautiful, though; the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”
Musician and Lucy in the sky, John Lennon, also perceived that the greatest spectacle usually goes unnoticed.
“When you do something noble and beautiful, and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle, and yet most of the audience still sleeps.”
Water, Fire, Trees
The elements, too, are a part of nature, and many poets extol the virtue of water, soil, and fire.
“Don’t be ashamed to weep;’ tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water.” -Brian Jacques
“Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.” -Cormac McCarthy
“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” -John Updike
Finally, the most impassioned voices devote time to saving nature and organizing environmental efforts to improve the life quality of our planet. Perhaps by saving nature, we finally learn to save ourselves.
“The environment is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest. It is one thing that all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves but a focusing lens on what we can become.” – Lady Bird Johnson
“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.” -Rachel Carson
“We share the earth not only with our fellow human beings but with all the other creatures.” -Dalai Lama